Perhaps secrets don’t work in my family. Perhaps my older sister (M) asked directly and my mother didn’t want to lie.
When I came out atheist to my mother in October we agreed that I’d be the one to tell my siblings; I didn’t want her to feel obligated to be my secret keeper or play defense for me. So when my mother called me last night to chat, she admitted that during a conversation about me, she told M that I was an atheist.
I can only imagine what sorts of things they discussed that would lead my mother to feel it was necessary to tell M about my deconversion. Did my recent politically charged discussion with M come up? Did my off-handed Facebook comment about “Fred Phelps and his god” ruffle some curious feathers? Was M concerned about my lack of morals and sex life? Perhaps they spoke about how distant Mom and I have been lately and Mom wanted to tell her why.
I know guessing and making things up in my mind won’t help me know the truth (hint, hint, Christians!), so I’ll stop there. Did it hurt that my mother didn’t let me tell M about being an atheist? I’m surprising myself when I answer: No, not at all, actually. More than anything else, it let me off the hook. I was putting off outsing myself for “the perfect moment”—which of course would never come. So now that I don’t have to worry about how to say it, I can think forward to how I should present my thoughts and answers to M when she comes to me with questions. She might not; she might not want to tell me that she knows. We’ll just have to see.
Why am I so calm about this? I was filled with anxiety just a few months ago about how my family would react to my coming out. Maybe it’s the lack of reaction (since I wasn’t there) that keeps me feeling peaceful—as if it was a success already. Maybe it’s because I feel so much more confident in who I am and how being an atheist is not wrong. When I found myself feeling guilt or embarrassment about being an atheist, I was acting out of the lessons and patterns I was given as a Christian. I may finally be breaking free of that training… bit by bit.